By: Krista Henry

In a digitized world, organizations need the skills and experiences of entry level candidates, including co-op students, more than ever.

The World Economic Forum cites that in three years the time spent on current tasks by humans and machines will be equal. In the next four years, half of all employees will need to upgrade their technical and other skills. Regardless of the industry, the skills needed are more human and hybrid centred.

Waterloo Arts alum shine in various industries

Waterloo Arts co-op alum are making strides across industries. We talked with graduates of Waterloo Arts co-op to get their insights on how Arts students can make a difference:

Gaurav Pokharel headshot

Gaurav Pokharel (BA’12), Rhetoric and Professional Writing.

Pokharel is a senior consultant at executive recruitment company Massey Henry. Pokharel previously held a broad range of co-op roles centered on communications
and writing.

Lisa Moore headshot

Lisa Moore (BA’13), Political Science and Business.

Moore is an HR business partner lead at the online wholesale marketplace, Faire. Moore previously had a range of co-op roles in research, policy and human resources.

Rob MacIsaac headshot

Rob MacIsaac (BA’84), Economics.

MacIsaac is president and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences, world-renowned hospital for healthcare research. MacIsaac’s co-op experience included roles in computer programming and tax administration.

What value can Arts students bring to an organization?

Arts students master several of the World Economic Forum’s ten employable skills for 2021. These include analytical thinking, complex problem-solving and creativity. Pokharel, Moore and MacIsaac identify several others:

Collaboration and critical thinking

“Arts students collaborate cross-functionally and are able to convey the right message and tone in emails. They explain an idea and bring it to life, persuading and influencing others to support as needed. Critical thinking skills are just as important. The ability to analyze and problem solve issues while ‘reading between the lines’ is often key. Especially in work environments where there is not always a ‘right’ answer and decision-making is dependent on many factors. Employees with critical thinking skills, coupled with strong people and communications skills, are important to the success of teams and projects; a lot of Arts students are already well-developed in these areas.”

- Gaurav Pokharel

Hands working together with a lightbulb and pencil

Emotional intelligence and work ethic

“Waterloo Arts students have those kind of emotional intelligence skills, such as empathy and the ability to work well with others, that help a workplace run in different ways. From a Human Resources perspective, they take care of people, culture, and make sure everyone can do their best work possible. But then, of course, there are other fields Arts grads pursue where these skills also come in handy such as operations, sales and marketing, or finance.

These are often viewed as ‘soft skills’ but they can be the toughest to master and can have a huge impact on navigating workplace dynamics. Arts students’ backgrounds can help them connect and influence others while setting them up for leadership roles in the workplace.

The other thing is the eagerness. It is hard to get your first job in the arts field and I have noticed the work ethic of Arts students is high. They are ready to work.”

- Lisa Moore

Three people standing together to display teamwork

Communication and fresh perspectives

“Waterloo Arts students are strong communicators.
Communication is such a huge and important part of success in the workplace. There is no question you need to understand the subject matter, the substance of what you are working on. But it does not do much good if you cannot communicate it and explain your ideas. And if you cannot persuade people. Art students also bring a perspective to things that has a broad context of the world because of their education. This you might not always get in some of the more technically oriented disciplines. It would be ideal if everyone did a three-year Arts degree before they did anything else. Everyone would benefit from that broad grounding.”

- Rob MacIsaac

Two people communicating

Don’t wait to get these skills into your organization tomorrow, hire Waterloo Arts co-op students today.